Time has long passed for a
genuire Regional Policy including Regional Transport
Statement by Michael D
Higgins TD, Labour Party President and General Election
candidate for Galway
11th April 2007
With a major conference about to happen on Friday 13
April, organised by the West-on-Track Community Campaign and
the Western Development Commission, Michael D Higgins TD,
Labour Party President and General Election candidate for
Galway West, states that the time has long gone to move
beyond rhetorical gestures towards a regional policy.
"A genuine regional strategy for the West should be part
of a Policy for the Regions that deals with urban
diseconomies on the one hand and the neglect and
underdevelopment of infrastructure outside of the major
cities, on the other.
"Such an integrated approach is singularly lacing at the
present time, with wide divergence between the National
Spatial Plan, National Development Plan, and such government
announcements for regional expenditure, including that
directed at the West of Ireland.
"An integrated regional transport initiative is what
Labour has called for. This can best be delivered by a
Regional Transport Authority with the capacity to take a
comprehensive range of decisions including planning. The
Dublin Transport Authority has, of course, been neutered by
the government and there are no proposals for regional
transport authorities for the other regions in the
"As the conference in Claremorris takes place, CIE should
be asked to point to what studies they have carried out, if
any, in terms of existing and future public transport needs
and an integrated strategy for the meeting of these
"Their decision to retain but a small proportion of their
14.5 acre site at Ceannt Station in Galway city and to use
the greater part of it for a public/private partnership
augurs badly for the entire region.
"Labour is committed to an integrated regional public
transport strategy, utilising the site at Ceannt Station as
a priority for regional public transport needs.
"Having discussed the West-on Track proposals in
Claremorris some time ago, when I was accompanied by the
Leader of the Labour party Deputy Pat Rabbitte TD, and
having again reviewed our own proposals this week, I can
state that the Labour Party is committed to treating the
opening of the Western Rail Corridor from Claremorris to
Ennis as a single project. We are in favour of shortening
the timetable for the delivery of this joint project and we
believe that the cost of ¤168 million can be justified
on economic social and environmental grounds. We further
believe that by treating this project in an integrated way,
within a similar timetable, a major contribution to a
genuine regional strategy can be made.
"The small proportion of state funding under Transport 21
for public transport in the West-less then 6%- makes its own
statement. So also does the ratio of capital funding
allocated to the roads network by comparison with rail.
Needless to say, environmentalists will have noted the
implications of our state.